From vampires to aliens, there are plenty of costumes for which colored contact lenses might seem like the ultimate finishing touch. However, these optical enhancements are not meant to be fashion statements alone. To wear contacts safely, patients must visit a doctor for an exam and a prescription. If you’re unaware of the dangers of store-bought colored contact lenses, review the following guide before costume shopping.
Why You Should Be Careful Buying Colored Contact Lenses
When you buy contacts from a Halloween store or an online cosmetic retailer, they don’t offer multiple sizes or lens types for different customers. Instead, these stores market colored contact lenses as “one size fits all.” Eye doctors will tell you that a licensed professional should personally fit every pair of contacts. If they aren’t specifically made to match your eye, they could scratch your cornea—the colored part of your eye—and cause complications like pink eye or painful, infected sores. These conditions will reduce your visibility, and possibly require a significant surgery, such as a corneal transplant. In extreme cases, costume contact lenses have resulted in blindness.
Street vendors, novelty stores, salons, online boutiques, and video shops may all sell colored contacts as over-the-counter items, without a prescription. However, this is illegal—the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers contact lenses a regulated medical device. In addition to not asking for a prescription, these retailers won’t educate customers on how to avoid the bacterial risks of wearing contact lenses, increasing the chance of a vision-impairing infection.
The Best Way to Purchase Colored Contacts
If you still want to impress your friends on Halloween with a killer costume, you don’t have to give up on the idea of colored contact lenses. Schedule an eye exam with a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist, and ask for a prescription with their suggested brand and lens dimensions. If you can’t purchase them from the doctor, find a seller that requires a prescription, and make sure to follow their instructions regarding care and cleaning for the lenses. If you notice any irritation or vision problems during or after wearing your colored contacts, return to your eye doctor.
The licensed optometrists at Abel, Klecker & Robbins in Lexington, KY, have been helping patients improve their vision for over 60 years. Led by a father-daughter team, Dr. Steven Klecker and Dr. Kathryn Robbins, this eye care center has an in-house lab so that you can get access to your personalized prescription within two hours. To learn more about their offerings, visit their website, or call (859) 269-6921 to schedule an appointment for your contact lenses.